Unstable extension of the lithosphere: a mechanical model for Basin-and- Range structure.

Raymond Charles Fletcher, B. Hallet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

155 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

To investigate the behavior of the lithosphere undergoing extension, we use a simple rheological model broadly consistent with experimental data on rock creep and with the nature of the brittle/ductile transition. A plastic surface layer overlies a substrate that deforms by power law creep with a stress exponent eta = 3 and an effective viscosity that decreases with depth. In extension this model shows a strong necking instability, provided that the thermal gradient is sufficiently large; otherwise, stable uniform extension is indicated. The predicted structures display uniformly spaced necks or regions of enhanced extension (basins) alternating with regions of reduced extension (ranges). If the depth to the brittle/ductile transition is roughly 10km, as suggested by the maximum depth of seismic faulting, the model yields spacings for the incipient Basin and Range structures of approx 25-60km, in excellent agreement with observation. -Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7457-7466
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Volume88
Issue numberB9
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1983

Fingerprint

lithosphere
basins
Creep
ductile-brittle transition
basin
Faulting
creep
temperature profiles
Thermal gradients
neck
viscosity
plastics
rocks
Rocks
spatial distribution
Viscosity
Plastics
Substrates
surface layer
surface layers

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Oceanography
  • Forestry
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Palaeontology

Cite this

Fletcher, Raymond Charles ; Hallet, B. / Unstable extension of the lithosphere : a mechanical model for Basin-and- Range structure. In: Journal of Geophysical Research. 1983 ; Vol. 88, No. B9. pp. 7457-7466.
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Unstable extension of the lithosphere : a mechanical model for Basin-and- Range structure. / Fletcher, Raymond Charles; Hallet, B.

In: Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 88, No. B9, 01.01.1983, p. 7457-7466.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Unstable extension of the lithosphere

T2 - a mechanical model for Basin-and- Range structure.

AU - Fletcher, Raymond Charles

AU - Hallet, B.

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N2 - To investigate the behavior of the lithosphere undergoing extension, we use a simple rheological model broadly consistent with experimental data on rock creep and with the nature of the brittle/ductile transition. A plastic surface layer overlies a substrate that deforms by power law creep with a stress exponent eta = 3 and an effective viscosity that decreases with depth. In extension this model shows a strong necking instability, provided that the thermal gradient is sufficiently large; otherwise, stable uniform extension is indicated. The predicted structures display uniformly spaced necks or regions of enhanced extension (basins) alternating with regions of reduced extension (ranges). If the depth to the brittle/ductile transition is roughly 10km, as suggested by the maximum depth of seismic faulting, the model yields spacings for the incipient Basin and Range structures of approx 25-60km, in excellent agreement with observation. -Authors

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